LUCERNE VALLEY – A worker at Hi Grade Materials became trapped underground pit, also known as a hopper in Lucerne Valley on Tuesday morning. At around 6:15 a.m. San Bernardino County Fire responded to rescue the man at 8701 Meridian Road.
When firefighters arrived shortly after the report, they made contact with plant personnel who fire officials said escorted them down to the pit of the quarry. “It was reported that a worker had accessed the lower end of an inclined conveyor belt to clear clogged material,” said San Bernardino County Fire Public Information Officer Eric Sherwin. “The conveyer is fed material that is pushed by heavy equipment from the floor of the quarry through a grate that filters the dirt. While attempting to the clear the jam, the worker was engulfed by additional material pushed over the grate by a dozer.”
San Bernardino County Fire Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) responded to the rescue and treated it as a trench rescue. The victim was awake and alert, with materials trapping him by burying him to his waist. Rescue personnel secured the dirt near the opening to prevent more material from falling in and further trapping the victim. “While the amount of debris that had to be removed was significant, heavy equipment is not appropriate for quick removal due to the close proximity of the victim and the chance of a collapse of unstable walls of material,” added Sherwin.
Hand tools were used to remove the materials entrapping the victim to ensure his safety. Although the process took additional time, the method was chosen in order to keep all involved safe. Paramedics awaited the removal of the victim and prepared for any changes in his medical condition, including the potential for Compartment Syndrome, which is caused by internal bleeding and tissue swelling.
The rescue took approximately two hours to remove the victim from the pit. The patient was taken to a landing zone to be airlifted to a trauma center for evaluation and treatment of injuries. A total of four engines, one heavy rescue, one squad, two safety officers and a chief officer totaling 27 personnel were assigned to the incident. Apple Valley Fire Protection District assisted with one engine, a rescue unit and three personnel.
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- 17439887_1656794701003380_1656689792_n: San Bernardino County Fire